Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why Walk When You Can [Food] Crawl

As a gift for two birthdays and one Chanukah, and many random days in between, Adam has asked for me to write a post for Miss Menu.  Isn't he sweet?!  So, Adam, happy belated birthday(s) and Chanukah!  Better late than never, right?  So here goes nothin'...my first post in 2 years...

A few weeks ago, we were having trouble deciding what type of food we wanted for dinner.  What else is new!  So rather than pick a restaurant and enjoy a relaxing meal, we decided to go on a food crawl in the East Village.  And it was glorious...and gluttonous!

Stop 1 - Baohaus
238 East 14th Street
b/t 2nd & 3rd Avenues
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What we ordered...
Chairman Bao: Braised all natural Berkshire pork belly served with Haus Relish, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro
Birdhaus Bao: All natural fried chicken. Brined 24 hours, served with Haus Seasoning Salt, lemon-garlic aioli, crushed peanuts, Taiwanese red sugar, and cilantro

I asked for my Birdhaus bao with no peanuts, and the cashier quickly asked me if I was allergic. I was really caught off-guard by the question, so I just answered "yes."  Then as we waited for them to make our baos, we realized what answering "yes" would mean.  They had to put on new gloves, wipe down the entire prep area, and use new utensils.  I felt so terrible!  But good to know from any of you with peanut allergies that they take it really seriously.  Both were delicious.  Stop 1 was definitely a success.
Stop 2 - Mimi Cheng's Dumplings
179 Second Avenue
b/t 11th & 12th Streets

What we ordered...
The Mighty Veggie: kale, zucchini, egg, shiitake mushroom, and carrots
Mimi's Secret Sauce: A spruced-up Sriracha
We got them pan-fried, and they took a REALLY long time to come out.  But it was worth the wait, great flavor.  And that sauce!  You can also order them boiled.
Stop 3 - Taqueria Diana
129 Second Avenue
b/t 7th Street & St. Marks Place

What we ordered...
Pollo nachos - chips, beans, cheese, salsa, jalapenos, guacamole, and crema
This photo doesn't even begin to do these nachos any justice.  They are MASSIVE.  It's literally served in a baking tin...and probably an 8"x12".  We saw a group of five sharing an order, and there we were, just the two of us, going to town all on our own!   The size is not the only thing these nachos have going for them. 

I can confidently say that they are the best nachos I've ever had in my life.  The shredded chicken is so flavorful and tender.  The chips are super crunchy after the whole tray goes under the broiler to melt the cheese.  I've been recommending these things everyone who asks if I've had any good meals lately! 

Stop 4 - Wafels & Dinges
209 East 2nd Street
@ Avenue B

What we ordered...
De Apple of my Pie Waffle: Grandma-style with dulce de leche, chunky apple jam, whipped cream, and cinnamon sugar
De Throwdown Waffle: Legendary victor of the battle with the great Bobby Flay, with spekuloos spread, whipped cream, and spekuloos cookie crumble
First of all, that was insane to order two waffles after all of the above-mentioned food.  Not sure who we thought we were!  Don't worry, though, we didn't finish both of them.  Because that's what would have made this food crawl over the top...and not the hundreds of bites that came before that! 

The popularity and number of the Wafels & Dinges trucks speak to how delicious they are.  The scent wafting off of the trucks that are located around the city and the scent of the entire brick & mortar location in Alphabet City is just heavenly.  I'm so glad they have spread the word around New York about how good spekuloos is.  It's my second-favorite spread, after Nutella, of course!
All in all, I think this food crawl was a success!  Such a great way to try a few different places, and it definitely makes for a fun evening hopping from place to place, especially on a nice night.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

S'more S'MAC Please

A few weeks ago, I went to my first Knicks game of the season with AL and DB, and it definitely was the right game to go to! Carmelo broke the Knicks scoring record with 62 points.  And, I got to see former Hoosier Cody Zeller play on the Bobcats.

We were considering trying some of the new food vendors at MSG, but decided to hold out for a late night treat: mac & cheese at S’MAC. 

I had been to the East Village location for lunch years ago, but never to this newer Murray Hill location. It definitely attracts a younger, rowdier crowd at 11pm on a Friday. Luckily by time got up to the counter to order, a table opened up for us.

Despite the temptation to order giant skillets of mac, we were all sensible and went with the “nosh” size. 

While some of the topping combos were tempting, I was really in the mood for a more classic mac. So, I ordered the 4 Cheese, which includes cheddar, muenster, gruyere and pecorino.  

AL ordered the Alpine, which was made with gruyere and slab bacon. 

DB ordered the Cheeseburger, which was made with American and cheddar cheeses combined with seasoned ground beef.  

All of us really enjoyed the food. Each cast iron skillet comes straight out of the oven, so you know that it's fresh and piping hot.  They time it perfectly to allow the cheese to get perfectly golden brown.  Crispy, but not overdone. 

I definitely see the draw of S’MAC for these college kids (guessing Baruch?)....hearty portions of mac & cheese and reasonably priced beer and wine.  Plus they’re open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.  Mac & cheese as late-night food? Sounds like a glorious alternative to pizza!

If that’s not the kind of atmosphere you have in mind, I’d suggest stopping in on a weeknight instead.  Otherwise you may just get s’mac-ed around!

157 East 33rd Street
b/t 3rd & Lexington Avenues

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Year, New Post

One of my new year’s resolutions was to finally get back to posting on Miss Menu. And while it may be a few weeks late, I still consider this resolution kept! 

With DB and AP in town this weekend, I’m hoping our plans for some fantastic meals will be exactly what I need to get back to posting regularly. So without further ado, I bring you Miss Menu’s first post of 2014!! 

Since the beginning of this brutal winter, I have wanted to finally try Hide-Chan, a Japanese ramen spot only one avenue from my apartment. It’s crazy that it has been open for a few years now, and I hadn’t made it there yet. But the second appearance of everyone’s favorite Polar Vortex was the perfect reason for us to try a hot bowl of soup. 

After a 15 minute wait on the unheated steps leading up to the restaurant’s 2nd floor location, our name was called and we opened the door to a warm, cozy and terrific smelling space. 

Up first were homemade dumplings with cheese. I think this is the first time I have seen cheese a) on dumplings, and b) in a Japanese restaurant. It was strangely delicious, although with melted cheese and a tomato dipping sauce, it tasted a bit more like Italian food than Japanese!
dumplings pork cheese Japanese

Our ramen bowls quickly followed. I ordered the Vegetable Ramen, and chose firm noodles.
This colorful bowl included corn, cauliflower, bell peppers, and avocado in a konbu seaweed and shitake based broth. It was very light, but needed more flavor and some heat. So I requested some “spicy red sauce” for $1.50 extra – definitely worth it. 

AL ordered the Tonkatsu Miso Ramen, with giant pieces of pork, corn, scallions, and a hard-boiled egg in miso sauce broth with wavy noodles.
ramen soup japanese
I tried a sip of the broth (ignoring the pork base for a second) and it had a delicious, rich flavor. 

Everything was good, but didn’t quite wow us as much as we were expecting. I do wish they had at least one chicken-based ramen on the menu. But it was great to finally try a neighborhood spot and perfect for thawing out over hot, spicy soup on a frigid night!

Hide-Chan Ramen
248 East 52nd Street
b/t 2nd & 3rd Avenues
Menu Pages listing

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

French-ing My Day

Last week, I was invited to attend a tasting even that couldn't be more up my alley: "French Your Day." Hard to go wrong with tasting French food and beverages, and maybe even getting to speak a little French while I'm at it! It was hosted by the French tea brand Palais des Thés at their new boutique in SoHo.
French tea salon in SoHo Palais Des Thes

It was really fun to try such a great variety of beverages, in addition to the teas.  Champagne Pommery is a lesser known Champagne in the US, but it was fantastic.  And, Allain Milliat featured a collection of gourmet juices in really interesting flavors like white peach nectar and mandarin juice. 
Alain Milliat juice and nectar Champagne Pommery
On my recent trip to France, I discovered these beautiful, little pastries called canelés while at the famous Les Halles - Paul Bocuse in Lyon, and was so excited to see them at this event. The traditional flavor is rum, but Céline of Canelé by Céline has really taken them to the next level, offering incredible twists such as vanilla, orange, caramel, dark chocolate, and my new favorite...TRUFFLE! 
canelés by Celine truffle caramel pastry lyon
I got to speak with her for a bit, and you could sense how passionate she was about sharing such a tasty pastry with US consumers.  She may be one of the few people to make savory canelés, and I am so glad she does!

I was so excited to be able to "French My Day" - and to get a little goût (taste) of France right here in NYC.  Now I'm looking forward to celebrating Bastille Day so I can continue enjoying my love of all things French!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Famous Foods, Fantastic Flavors

Midtown isn't especially known as a culinary destination for lunch, consisting mostly of generic delis, fast food joints, etc. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to that rule, including Xi'An Famous Foods that is opening today.

With four other locations and a lot of air time on shows like "No Reservations," "Bizarre Foods," and "Food(ography)," Xi'An has become very well-known. So when I saw on their Facebook page that they were doing a soft opening of their new Midtown location this past Thusrday, my co-worker and I ran over there. The line was long, and moving slowly (understandable as they work out the bells and whistles), but it was so worth the wait.
The menu is identical to the other locations, and that goes for the prices too.  Happy to see they didn't jack them up just because of its snazzy locale. 

They took over a space that used to be a Lebanese restaurant, evidenced by the giant oven in the middle of the restaurant.  The decor is minimal and sleek, and there is a little sitting (stools and counters) in the back.

I ordered the Mount Qi Vegetables Hand-Ripped Noodles (N5) and asked for it made medium spicy.  The flavor was incredible, and the variety of veggies was great (and a little surprising...chickpeas in Chinese food?!).  The cashier listed my spice request as "moderately spicy" on the ticket, probably fearing I couldn't handle the heat, and it definitely needed more spice.  So, next time I know to ask for even more!  The hand-pulled noodles were so fresh and had the perfect bite to them. 

I am so excited for this addition to my lunch options and can't wait to go back once the crowds subside.

Congrats to Jason on the opening, and best of luck! 
Xi'An Famous Foods
24 West 45th Street
b/t 5th & 6th Avenues